30 June 2014

Tanzania: Moshi Rural Grapples With HIV Infection As Donors Call It Quits

Moshi — MOSHI Rural District is not excluded from the list of areas in the country where the rate of HIV infection is rising. Currently, the HIV infection rate in the district stands at 2.1 per cent, up from 1.3 per cent recorded in 2012 from voluntary testing.

The district has a population of 466,737 people, out of which 225,767 are men. Moshi District Council HIV/AIDC Coordinator Mr Benedicto Rwamuhuru is worried of the situation not because the percentage of infection is high, but because the people in the area do not help those affected by HIV/AIDS in the wake of the pull out of donors.

The council has been on the forefront in helping HIV+ people and orphans in different areas such as medication, food and even paying school fees for pupils whose parents have died of HIV/AIDS.

"We have no way but to establish HIV/AIDS funds from village to district village level otherwise care to the infected people and orphans is not going to be sustained," says Mr Rwamuhuru.

He says as sponsors pull out, the only way to contain the situation is to persuade people to contribute money to help people affected by the disease.

A few weeks ago, the chairperson of the Tanzania Commission for AIDS (TACAIDS) Dr Fatma Mrisho appealed to the public to establish a fund for people affected by HIV/AIDS.

Speaking about his district, Mr Rwamuhuru says the council's resources cannot cope with the number of people affected by the scourge. "The number of orphans is far beyond the ability of the council to cater for. The response from the public in helping these people is not encouraging," he says.

"The challenge now is too huge because sponsors have been pulling put one by one and we have to prepare to be selfreliant." Moshi District Social Development Officer Mr Samson Sarakikya says that apart from raising awareness on change of behaviour to halt the fast spread of HIV/AIDS, people must also help victims of the disease.

"Our district council is doing everything in its ability to wage a relentless war against HIV transmission. We also ask the public to respond positively towards that goal," he explains. He appeals to the media to play a key role in informing and educating the public about the devastating consequences of the disease.

"We have to work hard towards this, or else it would be a difficult task in the event of donor pull out," he adds. "We have a lot of wealthy businessmen in Moshi. This is a call to everybody, you and me, to contribute whatever we have towards taming this disease."

Mr Rwamuhuru says that from July 2011 to April 2014 Moshi District Council spent 79,249,950/- to pay schools fees and other requirements to orphans as well as to HIV-infected people. A total of 38,420,000/- was spent to buy uniforms for 310 primary school pupils.

According to Mr Rwamuhuru, 37m/- was spent as capital to 12 groups of people living with HIV/AIDS to start incomegenerating projects. Also the council spent 21,690,000/- for treatment of people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Areas badly hit by HIV infection in the district include Arusha Chini where there is workers and labourers in the sugar industry.

Another area is Uru Mashariki, according to finding by the District Council. Similarly, Kibosho Central also has a high prevalence of HIV infection because the area is meeting place for drivers and other people engaged in long distance transport.

Other areas badly hit by the disease are Kilema South, Marangu East, Mwika North, Kahe, and Makuyuni.Mr Rwamuhuru says much has been done to hold awareness meetings to control the spread of HIV infection. Moshi Rural District spreads over an area of 1,713 square kilometres and has four administrative divisions and 31 wards.

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